Ecosystem services in practice: Challenges to real world implementation of ecosystem services across multiple landscapes - A critical review

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Abstract

Ecosystem services (ES) and ecosystem services assessment (ESA) have become common parlance in the environmental field. Scientists, policy-makers and activists have promoted the ES approach as a means of conveying the extent of threats to natural ecosystems with the goal of crafting socially acceptable and effective policy to address ecological threats and biodiversity conservation. Yet there are some significant challenges to wide acceptance of the ES approach which hinder its absorption into the mainstream geography literature. This paper reviews the historical development of the ES approach focusing on its relevance to applied geography at different stages of its development, describes the present state-of-the-art of ES, and synthesizes the results from several seminal papers and reports. I posit that there are two major stumbling blocks: 1) the difficulty of simplifying complexities between services so that statutory planning processes can incorporate the approach, and 2) the lack of cross-landscape assessment methods and examples. If we focus on the most immediately surmountable challenges to the ES approach much progress could be made in a short time. The subsequent and final substantive section of this review summaries these challenges and offers some suggestions for moving forward.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-192
Number of pages8
JournalApplied Geography
Volume45
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2013

Keywords

  • Biodiversity conservation
  • Ecosystem service assessments
  • Ecosystem services
  • Geographic information systems
  • Marine services
  • Policy integration

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Forestry
  • General Environmental Science
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management

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